Pennsylvania Federal Court Reinforces The Principle That Liability Policies Insure Against Legal Obligations Owed To Others

Defense and indemnity obligations owed under liability policies depend on the allegations made in the underlying lawsuit. In NVR, Inc. v. Motorists Mut. Ins. Co., 2019 WL 989393 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 1, 2019), NVR, an additional insured under a CGL policy sought coverage for two lawsuits that arose out of a heater explosion at a construction site. NVR was the defendant in personal injury litigation. In a separate lawsuit, NVR sought recovery for property damage that it incurred due to the
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Fifth Circuit: False Imprisonment Caused “Bodily Injury” During Subsequent Policy Periods Sufficient to Trigger Coverage

In a notable deviation from decisions across the country, the Fifth Circuit recently ruled that injuries from false imprisonment could be sustained after the actual false imprisonment itself ended, triggering two insurers’ duty to defend. Travelers Indem. Co. v. Mitchell, No. 17-60291, 2019 WL 2276694 (5th Cir. May 29, 2019). The insurers, whose policies did not come into existence until after the false imprisonment ended, were found obligated to defend a Mississippi County in a civil rights lawsuit stemming from
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Eleventh Circuit Holds Unlicensed Professional Was Not Engaging In “Professional Services”

The courts frequently apply insuring agreements broadly. However, in a recent decision, a court narrowly applied the definition of “professional services” to restrict coverage. Specifically, in Chapman v. Ace American Insurance Company, the Eleventh Circuit determined the services provided by an individual holding himself out as a counselor did not constitute “professional services.”     The underlying lawsuit concerned Mark and Barbara Chapman’s ten-year old son who was diagnosed with ADHD and had a history of behavioral problems. The Chapman family
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Absent Policyholder Demand To Settle, Seventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Bad Faith Action Against Insurer After Unexpected Excess Judgment

The Seventh Circuit, applying Illinois law, recently tackled the highly-charged issue of a bad faith claim against an insurer for failing to settle for the policy limit. In Surgery Center at 900 North Michigan Avenue, LLC v. American Physicians Assurance Corp., Inc., the Seventh Circuit closely scrutinized the facts and affirmed the trial court’s decision that the insurer did not act in bad faith.  The coverage dispute arose between the Surgery Center at 900 North Michigan Avenue, LLC (Surgery Center)
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Climate Change Litigation: Where Are the Coverage Suits?

There is an interesting question surrounding the present generation of climate change lawsuits currently working their way through the court system. Specifically, where are the duty to defend actions related to these suits? Background By way of background, there are two types of climate change lawsuits currently working their way through the courts: Those filed by government entities that seek to hold energy companies responsible for the costs that government entities are forced to expend in adapting to climate change,
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Contractual Liability Exclusion Defeats General Contractor’s Bid Against Six Insurers for Defense and Indemnity in West Virginia

West Virginia’s highest court recently handed down a well-articulated decision on the scope of a CGL policy’s insuring agreement and exclusion for contractual liability, which could be influential to other courts who struggle with these commonly-litigated issues. On May 1, 2019, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals unanimously upheld summary judgment to six insurance companies in a declaratory judgment action relating to a property developer’s suit against its general contractor over construction defects at a shopping center. The insurers
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Florida Appellate Court Narrows Exception to Four Corners Rule

The general rule for determining whether a duty to defend exists for a particular claim is easily stated. If the allegations against the insured fall within the scope of coverage afforded by a liability policy, then the insurer has a duty to defend its insured. This general rule is commonly referred to as the four corners rule. However, insurers frequently face a dilemma in determining whether they have a duty to defend where the allegations in a tendered suit arguably fall
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Can You Depreciate Labor? Tennessee Supreme Court Says No.

When calculating the actual cash value (ACV) amount of property damage, the labor component cannot be depreciated according to the Tennessee Supreme Court in a unanimous decision answering a certified question.  Lammert, et. al v. Auto-Owners (Mutual) Ins. Co., 2019 WL 1592687 (Tenn. April 15, 2019). At issue were two homeowner policies, one policy which contained a definition of ACV and the other which did not, but neither policy explicitly stated whether labor costs were included within the scope of
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ALI’s Restatement of Liability Insurance Advocates a “Split-the-Baby” Approach to Allocation of Long-Tail Claims

“All sums” or “pro rata” – which one is the majority view for allocation of long-trail claims? Well, after eight years of iterative revision, the proposed final draft no. 2 of ALI’s Restatement of the Law, Liability Insurance was approved in May 2018. The restatement has received very critical feedback from both sides, chiefly that the ALI has abandoned its mission to “restate” common law in favor of advocating what the law should be. One of the more hotly contested sections
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Reinsurance Trial Resolved after 10 Days and 15 Witnesses: “Follow the Fortunes” Cannot be Read into Reinsurance Contracts! Reinsurers Can Voluntarily Pay!

An insurer and reinsurer litigated their breach of contract actions against each other under two facultative reinsurance certificates in a New York federal court culminating in a 10-day bench trial presenting 10 fact witnesses and five experts. Utica Mutual Insurance Company v. Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. (N.D.N.Y., March 29, 2019). The heart of their dispute was the reinsurer’s liability for additional loss expenses; that is, whether it must pay for expenses the ceding insurer incurred to investigate, adjust and litigate
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